In the Red Zone: Pittsburgh Steelers at New England Patriots Preview – Week 9

In the Red Zone

This Week

Pittsburgh Steelers @ New England Patriots

The New England Patriots host the Pittsburgh Steelers at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro MA on Sunday at 4:25 p.m.

The Steelers - The Patriots
Overall Record 2-5 Overall Record 6-2
Road Record 1-3 Home Record 4-0
AFC East 1-0 AFC North 0-1
AFC 2-3 AFC 3-2

Walt Anderson is the referee for the game.

The Line/Prediction

As of Thursday the line on the game from Sports Betting via Yahoo Sports has the Patriots at MINUS 6.5.  The over/under is 44. 

My Prediction is Patriots 28, Steelers, 17.  Give the points (Patriots) and take the under.  I am 2-6 against the spread and 3 of 8 on calling the over/under in 2013.

Tickets

The Patriots are reporting the game as a sell out. It is the 212th consecutive sell out dating back to the 1994 season opener.  The record includes preseason, regular season and playoff games.

Tickets to the game, if available, can be purchased through Ticketmaster.  You can check the availability here.

After market tickets are available through the Official Patriots Ticket Exchange where season ticket holders can sell their unused seats to fans on the season ticket waiting list.

Getting to the Game

If you’re lucky enough to be going to the game in Foxboro make sure you check out the links.

Here is the up to date weather forecast from the Weather Channel for Foxboro MA.

Click for all the game day information including stadium directions, parking information and map and a Gillette Stadium seating chart.

Tailgating

Here’s a bunch of different tailgating recipes from Tailgating.com.  There’s something there for everyone and every type of meal or snack.  I’ve tried some of the recipes and they’re very good. 

And with tailgating many people enjoy some adult beverages.  With that in mind check out Drink Nation for how to make all sorts of great drinks.  You can look things up by name, ingredient(s) or theme.

Whether it’s at the game, a bar or a friend’s house moderation is always the key to a great time.  Please don’t drink and drive and designate a sober driver.  Remember drive sober or get pulled over.

BROADCAST INFORMATION

Television

CBS in televising the game regionally and Jim Nantz will do play by play while Phil Simms will provide the game analysis.  You can look here for your local affiliate.

See if you’re getting the game courtesy of J.P. Kirby at the506.com.

The DirecTV designation is Channel 713.

Here are all the rules on NFL TV broadcasts including explaining the blackout rules; flex scheduling and commercial breaks.

Radio

The Patriots Radio Network broadcasts the game from flagship station WBZ-FM, 98.5 the Sports Hub in Boston. Bob Socci handles the play-by-play and former Patriots QB Scott Zolak will do game analysis. It all starts with Gary Tanguay and Andy Gresh with the pregame show at 1:30 p.m. along the network. The post game starts after the final gun and continues for three hours along the network.

The Patriots Radio Network call is available on Sirius Channel 86, XM Channel 86 and SiriusXM Internet Channel 818.

The Steelers Radio Network has Bill Hillgrove calling play-by-play and former Steeler  Tunch Ilkin provides the analysis with former Steeler Craig Wolfley on the sidelines via their flagship stations WDVE-FM 102.5 and WBGG-AM 790.

Their call is available on Sirius Channel 93 and SiriusXM Internet Channel 824.

ESPN Radio will broadcast the game nationally (except in the Boston and Pittsburgh markets) with Sean McDonough and Bill Polian calling the game and Ian Fitzsimmons on the sidelines.

Patriots All Access

Patriots All-Access features behind the scenes looks, interviews and breakdowns with head coach Bill Belichick and in depth features on the team.  It’s hosted by Steve Burton of WBZ-TV (Boston) and airs weekly in most New England television markets.

  • Boston MA on TV 38 Friday at 7 p.m. and Sunday at 9 a.m.
  • Providence RI on WNAC Friday at 7 p.m. and Sunday at 9 a.m.
  • Manchester NH on WMUR Saturday at midnight
  • Portland ME on WMTW Saturday at 5 a.m.
  • Hartford CT on WCTX Saturday at 5 p.m.
  • Springfield MA on WFXQ Saturday at 7 p.m.
  • Bangor ME on WVII Sunday at 11 a.m.

You can also watch it anytime on the teams website in the media section.

Last Week

The Patriots beat the Dolphins at home, 27-17.  The Steelers lost to the Raiders in Oakland 21-18.

History

  • This is the 27th meeting between the teams dating back to 1972.
  • Of the previous 26 games, 4 were in playoff games which the Patriots are 3-1.
  • Two of those four games were AFC Championship games.
  • In the regular season series the Steelers lead 14-8
  • Teams last met in 2011 at Heinz Field with Pittsburgh winning 25-17.

Patriots Team Notes

New England PatriotsHere is the Patriots roster, depth chart and injury report for the game.

2013 Patriots Schedule/Results

The Patriots overall franchise record is 432-371-9.  They have won three Super Bowls (XXXVI, XXXVIII, XXXIX) in seven appearances.  Overall they are 24-17 in the post season.

They last appeared in the playoffs in 2012 when they beat Houston in the AFC Divisional Round 41-28 and lost to Baltimore 28-13 in the AFC Championship Game.

The Patriots were 12-4 (1-1 in playoffs) in 2012 and are the defending four-time AFC East Champions.  They have won the division 10 times and the conference 5 times since 2000.

New England is 77-15 at home in the regular season since Gillette Stadium opened in 2002.

In that time span the Patriots have only allowed 17.0 points per game at home.  Only Pittsburgh (16.9) and Baltimore (16.0) have allowed fewer.

They also lead the NFL in points scored at home averaging 27.5 points per game since 2002.

Since 2010 the Patriots are 23-1 in the second half of the season with their lone loss coming in 2012.

With a win on Sunday they could tie the Oakland Raiders for the most wins among the former AFL teams with 433.  The Raiders host the Eagles week.

Since 2003 the Patriots have the NFL’s best record at 132-36.  The Indianapolis Colts are second 14 games behind.

Since November 2001 the Patriots are an NFL best 35-13 in November games.

New England is 2-1 at Gillette Stadium vs. Pittsburgh and 3-4 overall as the home team.

The Patriots have forced a turnover in 35 consecutive games.

Since 1994 the Patriots are PLUS 154 in turnover differential best in the NFL by a wide margin.  Kansas City is 2nd at PLUS 81 and Green Bay is 3rd at PLUS 77.

New England is PLUS 7 in turnover differential tied for 6th in the NFL.  They have 10 INT’s and have recovered 6 fumbles while they have thrown 6 INT’s and lost 3 fumbles.

The Patriots are 17th in points scored averaging 22.4 points per game and are tied for 5th in fewest points allowed with 18.0 points per game.

Patriots led the NFL in 2012 in:

  • Points, 557
  • First downs, 444
  • Touchdowns, 67
  • Total yards, 6,846
  • Turnover differential, +25
  • Total offense, 427.9 yards per game
  • Points per game, 34.8

New England set the following team records in 2012:

  • First downs, 444 (NFL record).
  • Fewest fumbles, 7

This is the 20th season of Patriots ownership by the Kraft family.  Since Robert Kraft bought the team in 1994 they:

  • Have the most Super Bowl wins, 3.
  • Have the most regular season wins, 211.
  • Have the most wins including playoffs, 231.
  • Have the most conference titles, 6.
  • Have the most division titles, 12.
  • Have the most playoff wins, 20
  • Have played the most playoff games, 31.
  • Are tied for the most playoff seasons, 14.
  • The fewest head coaches within the division, 3.
  • Have drafted the most Pro Bowl players, 20.

From 1960 to 1993 the New England/Boston Patriots won a total of 225 games.  In the 20 years the Kraft family has owned the team they have now won 230 games including the three biggest in franchise history.

Patriots Staff Notes

This is the link to head coach Bill Belichick’s Wednesday press conference on the Steelers.

Bill Belichick is 8-9 vs. the Steelers in his career.  He is 6-3 against them as the head coach in New England including 2-0 in the playoffs.

Overall in his NFL career Belichick is 193-103 in his 19th NFL season as a head coach.  He is 157-59 with New England and 36-44 with Cleveland.  He is 18-8 in the playoffs, 17-7 as head coach of the Patriots in the post season.  When you combine his regular season and post season records he is 211-111.

Belichick’s 211 wins are good for 5th all-time.

He has won 5 conference titles; he needs one more to tied Don Shula’s record of 6.

He is the first head coach to have had 4 teams that scored at least 500 points in a season.

Belichick is one of five head coaches in NFL history whose father (Steve Belichick) played in the league.  The others are former Kansas City head coach Todd Haley (Dick Haley), former San Francisco head coach Mike Nolan (Dick Nolan), former Cincinnati head coach David Shula (Don Shula) and former NY Jets head coach Joe Walton (Frank Walton).

Belichick is one of just four coaches to win three Super Bowls, joining Chuck Noll (4), Joe Gibbs (3) and Bill Walsh (3).  Those men are all in the Hall of Fame.

He is the only coach in NFL history to win three championship titles in four seasons.

No coach either as the head coach or an assistant has appeared in more Super Bowls than Belichick who has been to 8 (five as a head coach).

He is the only coach in NFL history to have led his team to 10+ wins in 10 consecutive seasons.

He has been NFL Coach of the Year three times he and Chuck Knox are the only three time winners, while Don Shula won four times.

Only one of three coaches in NFL history with 100 more wins than loses joining Don Shula and George Halas.

Special Teams Coach Scott O’Brien was the special teams coach at the University of Pittsburgh for four seasons from 1987-90.

Patriots Possible Starters

Offense:

  • LT: Solder
  • LG: Mankins
  • C: Wendell
  • RG: Connolly
  • RT: Svitek
  • TE: Gronkowski
  • WR: Edelman
  • WR: Thompkins
  • WR: Amendola
  • QB: Brady
  • RB: Ridley

Defense:

  • DE: Ninkovich
  • DT: Vellano
  • DT: Sopoaga
  • DE: Cha. Jones
  • LB: Collins
  • LB: Spikes
  • LB: Hightower
  • LCB: Talib
  • RCB: Dennard
  • S: Arrington
  • S: McCourty

Patriots Players Notes

Tom Brady Notes:

  • This is his 14th NFL season he is 6-2 vs. the Steelers in his career including 2-0 in the playoffs. He is 79-13 at home in the regular season.
  • Overall he is 142-41 as a starting QB and is 17-7 in the playoffs for an overall record of 159-48.  He is an 8 time Pro Bowl QB; 3 time All-Pro selection; two time NFL MVP and has won 3 Super Bowls while twice being named the games MVP.  He is also listed as the 21st Greatest Player in the History of the NFL according to the NFL Network.
  • He is the only QB in any era to have 100 more wins than losses at anytime in their career.
  • Brady has led New England to 10 Division titles, most by any QB in NFL history.
  • With his Week 6 comeback win over New Orleans he now has 38 wins in his career (31 in the regular season and 7 in the playoffs) in which the team was trailing or tied in the fourth quarter.  It was the second time this season he also turned the trick at Buffalo in Week 1.  In 28 of the 38 comeback wins the team was losing in the fourth quarter.
  • 343 TD passes in his career tie him for 4th in NFL history with New Orleans QB Drew Brees.  Both men passed Fran Tarkenton last week.
  • Is just the 5th NFL QB with 340 or more TD passes in his career.
  • Has 7 games with two 50+ yard TD passes in his career.
  • 142 career wins are 5th all-time.  Dan Marino is 4th with 147.
  • Is only 5th NFL QB to have achieved 140 regular season wins joining Peyton Manning, John Elway, Dan Marino and Brett Favre.
  • He had 30+ TD passes for the 3rd consecutive season and is just the fifth player to have four or more 30+ TD pass seasons.
  • He has thrown for 2 or more TD’s in 110 games; the team’s record is 94-16.

Rob Gronkowski notes:

  • In his first two games he has 10 catches for 141-yards.
  • Set franchise record with his 10th 100-yard game.
  • Has 38 touchdown receptions from Tom Brady and needs one touchdown reception from Brady to tie Randy Moss at 39 for the most touchdown receptions from Brady.
  • Has 38 touchdown receptions in 44 career games. He has an opportunity to become the fastest to 40 touchdown receptions.  Antonio Gates from San Diego has the current record, reaching 40 touchdown receptions in 71 games.
  • Played his senior high school season at Woodland Hills High School in Pittsburgh PA.

Danny Amendola notes:

  • Had his first 100-yard game as a Patriot at Buffalo.  It was the third of his career.
  • Returned to action vs. Miami in Week 8 after missing previous game with a concussion.
  • Has missed 4 games in 2014 due to injuries (groin, 3 and concussion, 1).

Julian Edelman notes:

  • Based on a minimum of 75 returns he has the highest punt return average in NFL history averaging 12.8 yards per return.
  • With 1 more punt return for a TD he will set a new team record.  He is tied at 3 with Irving Fryar and Troy Brown.
  • He had his second career 100-yard game at Atlanta when he had a career high 118-yards on 7 catches.
  • Leads the team with 48 catches for 462 yards.  He had just 21 catches in 2012.

Kenbrell Thompkins notes:

  • Has 4 TD catches in his rookie season.  He leads the team in that category.
  • With two more TD catches he will tie Terry Glenn for most TD catches by a Patriots rookie wide receiver.
  • Had his first game winning TD catch Week 6 vs. New Orleans.
  • Had 127-yards receiving at Atlanta and is just the second Patriots rookie to have a 100-yard game.
  • The 127-yard receiving is the highest single game total by a Patriots rookie WR.

Stevan Ridley notes:

  • Had his third 2-TD game of his career against New Orleans in Week 6.
  • Leads the team with 399 rushing yards in 7 games.
  • Tied with Kenbrell Thompkins for team lead in TD’s with 4.
  • Has a rushing TD in three consecutive games.

Stephen Gostkowski notes:

  • Named October 2013 AFC Special Teams Player of the Month.
  • He is the most accurate kicker by percentage in team history at 85.2% (190 0f 223).
  • He has made 15 consecutive field goals; the team record is 23 set by Adam Viniateri.
  • He is 3rd in team history in points with 942 trailing only Gino Cappelletti (1,130) and Adam Vinatieri (1,158).
  • Set team record with his 9th career field goal of 50+ yards against the Saints in Week 6.
  • His field goal against Buffalo was only the second game winner in his career.
  • The 54-yard field goal against New Orleans set a new career long.

Isaac Sopoaga notes:

  • Acquired in a deadline deal earlier in the week from Philadelphia.  Teams also flipped draft picks in 2014 with New England sending the Eagles a 5th round selection and getting a 6th round pick in return.
  • It was the only NFL trade at the deadline and the second year in a row in which the Patriots not only made a deadline trade but also executed it with the team they scrimmaged with in the preseason.
  • Is regarded as an excellent run stopper and will help immensely in the middle.
  • Will wear #90.

Rob Ninkovich notes:

  • Forced five fumbles last season along with LB Brandon Spikes to tie a team record.
  • Has 11 fumble recoveries since 2010 the most in the NFL in that span.

Joe Vellano notes:

  • Rookie made his first NFL start Week 5 at Cincinnati.
  • Was undrafted free agent out of Maryland.
  • Has 20 tackles (11 solo) so far this season.
  • Registered his first NFL sack Week 4 at Atlanta.
  • One of four father-son combo’s to be named All-American’s from the same Division 1 school.  The Chicago Bears drafted his father Paul in 1974.

Chris Jones notes:

  • Rookie had his first NFL sack Week 5 at Cincinnati.
  • Made first NFL start Week 6 vs. New Orleans and had 3 tackles.
  • Leads all NFL rookies with 4.5 sacks.

Brandon Spikes notes:

  • Leads the team in tackles made with 75 (42 solo).
  • Had a team high 22 tackles against Cincinnati.  It was a career high for Spikes.
  • He had a career high 128 tackles in 2012 including 6 games with 10 or more tackles.

Chandler Jones notes:

  • His brother Arthur plays for the Ravens and his brother Jon is a UFC Champion.
  • Had his first 2+ sack games at Seattle in 2012 and his second in Week 2 against the Jets.
  • Leads the team in sacks with 6.5 and QB hits with 13.
  • Blocked his first NFL field goal attempt Week 8 vs. Miami.
  • He forced 3 fumbles on sacks in 2012.

Aqib Talib notes:

  • Leads the team with 4 INT’s and 9 passes defensed.
  • Returned to practice this week and I expect him to play vs. Steelers.  He missed last two games due to a hip injury suffered against the Saints in Week 6.

Duron Harmon notes:

  • Had his first NFL INT vs. Miami in Week 8.

Logan Ryan notes:

  • Had his first NFL INT at New York in Week 7 and returned it 79-yards for a touchdown.
  • Forced a fumble on his first NFL sack Week 8 vs. Miami.  He later added a 2nd second in the game.

There are only two players on the team who played on at least one of the Super Bowl championship teams, Brady (3) and Wilfork (on IR) (1).

Roster moves this week:

  • Traded a 5th round pick in 2014 to Philadelphia for DL Isaac Sopoaga and a 6th round pick in 2014.
  • Placed T Sebastian Vollmer on season ending IR with a broken leg.
  • DT Sealver Siliga signed to the practice squad.
  • CB Travis Howard released from the practice squad.

Patriots team captains for 2103:

Players with New England roots:

Players from New England based colleges and universities:

The Patriots have 6 retired numbers:

  • 20 – Gino Cappelletti
  • 40 – Mike Haynes
  • 73 – John Hannah
  • 78 – Bruce Armstrong
  • 79 – Jim Lee Hunt
  • 89 – Bob Dee

Steelers Team Notes

Pittsburgh SteelersHere is the Steelers roster, depth chart and injury report for the game.

2013 Steelers Schedule/Results

The Steelers all-time record is 563-516-20 and they are 33-21 in the playoffs with their last playoff appearance coming in 2011.  That season the Steelers lost on the road in overtime to the Denver Broncos in the AFC Wild Card Game.

They have won six Super Bowl titles (IX, X, XIII, XIV, XL, XLIII) in eight appearances.  They last appeared in a Super Bowl in 2010 losing to the Green Bay Packers in Super Bowl XLV, 31-25. 

The Steelers franchise started in 1933 as the Pittsburgh Pirates and they changed their nickname to the Steelers in 1940.

Pittsburgh was the first opponent in Gillette Stadium and New England won 30-14.

The Steelers have not played in Gillette Stadium since 2008 when they won 33-10.

Steelers looking for back-to-back wins over the Patriots for first time since they won 6 consecutive games between 1989 and 1997.

Pittsburgh is 3rd in total wins in the NFL since 1994 with 211.

Since 1994 they have the second most Super Bowl appearances (4) trailing only New England (6).

Last week against the Raiders the Steelers forced a season high 3 turnovers (2 INT’s and 1 fumble).

Pittsburgh is MINUS 9 in turnover differential tied for 29th in the NFL.  They have 4 INT’s and have recovered 1 fumble while they have thrown 7 INT’s and lost 7 fumbles.

The Steelers are 28th in points scored averaging 17.9 points per game and are 14th in fewest points allowed with 21.9 points per game.

Steelers Staff Notes

Read what Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin had to say to the New England media about the match up.

Mike Tomlin is in his 7th season as an NFL head coach he is 65-38 in the regular season record and 5-3 in the playoffs for an overall record of 70-41.

He is 2-2 against New England in his career.

He is the 16th head coach in Steelers history and just the third since 1969 following Hall of Famer Chuck Noll (1969-1991) and Bill Cowher (1992-2003).

Assistant Head Coach/Defensive Line John Mitchell and Wide Receivers Coach Richard Mann both served as assistant coaches with the Cleveland Browns on Bill Belichick’s staff from 1991-93.

Offensive Line Coach Jack Bicknell Jr. attended Orono ME High School before going on to attend Boston College, where he played four years at center from 1981-84. He went on to coach at the University of New Hampshire from 1987-96.

Running Backs Coach Kirby Wilson was the Patriots running back coach for three seasons from 1997-99.

Steelers Possible Starters

Offense:

  • LT: Beachum
  • LG: Whimper
  • C: Velasco
  • RG: Decastro
  • RT: Gilbert
  • TE: Miller
  • WR: Brown
  • WR: Sanders
  • WR: Cotchery
  • QB: Roethlisberger
  • RB: Bell

Defense:

  • DE: Heyward
  • NT: Fangupo
  • DE: Kiesel
  • LB: Woodley
  • LB: Williams
  • LB: Timmons
  • LB: Worilds
  • LCB: Gay
  • RCB: Taylor
  • S: Clark
  • S: Polamalu

Steelers Players Notes

Ben Roethlisberger notes:

  • Steelers starting QB was their first round pick out of Miami (OH) in the 2004 NFL Draft.
  • Roethlisberger in his 10th NFL season has a 89-44 record in the regular season and 10-4 in the playoffs for an overall record of 99-48. 
  • Has a 39-27 career record on the road.
  • He is 3-4 vs. New England in his career including 0-1 in the playoffs.
  • Has thrown a TD pass in 21 consecutive games (including post season).
  • Has had consecutive 300-yard passing games vs. New England

Antonio Brown notes:

  • He is the cousin of Patriots WR Kenbrell Thompkins.
  • Had 9 catches for 82-yards at Oakland in Week 8.
  • Has a catch in 47 consecutive games including the playoffs.
  • Leads the team with 56 receptions and 630 receiving yards.
  • His 56 catches lead the NFL.

Emmanuel Sanders notes:

  • Nearly signed with the Patriots in 2012 but Steelers matched the offer sheet.
  • Had a team high 88-yards receiving Week 8 at Oakland.
  • Has two catches of 40 plus yards in 2013 his season long is 55-yards Week 5 at New York.

Troy Polamalu notes:

  • Had an INT, sack and two tackles for loss in Week 8 loss at Oakland.
  • Has 31 career INT’s that is 8th in Pittsburgh franchise history. 
  • Needs 1 more INT to tie Jack Ham and Darren Perry for 7th most in franchise history.

Heath Miller notes:

  • Has 40 career TD catches the most by a TE in Steelers history and 5th all-time in franchise history overall.
  • Also has most catches by a TE in franchise history with 428.
  • Was team MVP in 2012 and named to his second Pro-Bowl.
  • Led all AFC TE’s with 818 receiving yards in 2012 and was 2nd in TD’s with 8.
  • Has caught one pass in 132 of the 140 games he has played in.

Lawrence Timmons notes:

  • Has five games with at least 10 tackles in 2013.
  • Has 22 double digit tackle games in his career.
  • Has started 44 consecutive games for the Steelers.
  • Leads team with 78 tackles (51 solo).

Le’Veon Bell notes:

  • Leads team in rushing yards with 208 and carries with 64.

Lamar Woodley notes:

  • Leads team with 5 sacks.
  • 5th in sacks in franchise history with 57.
  • Fastest in team history to 50 sacks did it in just 73 games.

Former Patriots P Zoltan Mesko was released by the Steelers on Tuesday after New England had released him before Week 1.

Players that attended New England based colleges or universities.

Steelers 2013 captains are:

Pittsburgh has 1 retired number:

  • 70 – Ernie Stautner

Next Week

Carolina PanthersUp next: Carolina Panthers

Location: Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte NC

Date/Time: Monday November 18 8:25 p.m.

TV Network: ESPN

Follow Steve on Twitter @SteveMichaelsII

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